Five Ramona High School students are preparing for national competition next month after earning state championships at the SkillsUSA Competition in San Diego at the Town and Country Hotel and Convention Center.
Ramona High senior Kris Smith beat the defending champion, Ramona’s Brandon Grassilli, in the state contest to earn the gold in Automotive Service Technology. Grassilli, who with fellow RHS senior Brendon Mendenhall placed first in the state in recent Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills competition, finished second to Smith in the state and won a silver medal. Smith took 10th place last year.
Junior Rebecca Nolan earned a gold medal in Motorcycle Service Technology and will also represent Ramona as a state officer at the nationals. In addition, she received a silver medal in Job Interview.
Junior Jose Castro took home the state title in Automotive Refinishing. Sophomore Mike Morgan won the state gold in Customer Service, and RHS graduate Daniel Currie won gold in the post secondary competition in Motorcycle Technology.
Morgan, Collin Dekorne and Justin Sebenius won gold medals in Introductory Automotive, a state-only category.
Annaleigh Brixey won a bronze medal in Creed. Karl Haas won a bronze in Power Equipment Technology. Evan Bray, Emily Brown and Nick Jaquez won bronze medals in Welding Fabrication.
Ramona High automotive teacher Robert Grace is the SkillsUSA adviser. He and RHS automotive teachers Saavedra and Mickey Nielsen prepare the students with classroom instruction and after-school and weekend instruction, and they are at the competition. In addition, Mike Jordan, retired RHS automotive teacher, volunteers to prepare the students for the competitions.
The five state champions are preparing for the SkillsUSA National Championships that will be held in Kansas City, Mo., in June. They must raise money for the trip. Anyone wanting to donate may contact Connie Claxton at the high school at 760-787-4015 or Saavedra at email@example.com.
In other automotive news, Brandon Grassilli and Brendon Mendenhall, who won the California 2010 Ford/AAA Student Auto Skills contest this month, placed seventh in the nation last month in the National Automotive Technology Competition in New York City.
Ramona High School gets an automatic bid to the two-day National Automotive Technology Competition in April because of its commitment to vocational skills and the overall excellence of its program, said Saavedra. On the first day, Mendenhall and Grassilli were at a work station for three hours. On day two, they worked for three hours trouble shooting on a Lexus RV 350.
“Every team works on a different auto,” said Saavedra, who accompanied the two seniors to New York City. “Some teams worked on Fords, Mazdas, BMWs, Suburus and Toyotas, so the students have to have knowledge on all types of autos. It is a very demanding two days.”
For their efforts Grassilli and Mendenhall brought back thousands of dollars in merchandise and scholarships for the school, the instructor and themselves. The school received a $1,000 ASE Prep and Chilton O-Line.
The students each received about $37,000 in scholarships, tools, apparel, safety equipment, tool bags, and gifts from Monroe Shocks, Rand Industrial Technologies Permatex, Ford, Lexus, Mazda, Subaru, Toyota, NATEF, Lincoln Technical Institute and UTI. The instructor also received gifts from the sponsors.